Bihar government cannot yet take a sigh of relief as the Supreme Court once again on Tuesday rapped the government over its “inefficiency” in handling the Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case.
The apex court slammed the state government over its failure to file a correct FIR and gave a deadline of 24 hours to add charges under Section 377 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code and the POCSO Act in the FIR.
The sodomy cases had been filed under the POCSO Act, and not under Section 377 of the IPC, which the top court said was not the right way to handle them.
The court further warned of action against the government if it is found that there were offences under Section 377 of the IPC and POCSO Act that were not registered in the FIR.
“The Bihar government has registered only for minimum offence. If you haven’t registered FIR on 377, then how will you investigate?” the court said.
“Child is sodomised, you say FIR will be lodged on Monday. Are we doing any favour to these children? Are they not citizens of this country,” the court fumed.
The Supreme Court also asked the counsel appearing for the CBI lawyer to take instruction if the central probe agency can investigate the cases relating to sexual assault in nine out of 17 shelter homes in Bihar named in the TISS report.
The court has, over the period of time, pulled up the Bihar government and the police on several occasions over the delay in the arrest of the accused in the case.
Earlier last week, Former Bihar Minister Manju Verma surrendered in a Begusarai court days after the Supreme Court rapped the Bihar government and the police for their failure to arrest her in a case related to the recovery of ammunition from her home during a CBI raid in connection with the Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case.
In September, an FIR was registered against the former minister and her husband in August under Arms Act, 1959, following the recovery of 50 cartridges from her in-law’s house at Begusarai district during a CBI raid in connection with the Muzaffarpur shelter home sex scandal.
Verma’s husband Chandrasekhar Verma had also surrendered in the Begusarai District Court after a lower court and the Patna High Court repeatedly rejected his interim bail petitions.
At the shelter home in Muzaffarpur, 34 girls – aged seven to fourteen – were allegedly drugged, raped, forced to sleep naked and scalded with boiling water. Some of the girls were also forced to undergo an abortion.
The case came to light when the Bihar Social Welfare Department filed an FIR based on a social audit of the shelter home conducted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai.
An FIR was subsequently registered by the Bihar social welfare department and 10 persons, including prime accused Brajesh Thakur whose NGO ran the shelter home, were arrested.
The Supreme Court had in September vacated the Patna High Court’s 23 August order banning the media from reporting on the Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case and decided to monitor the investigation.
Meanwhile, Tejaswi Yadav alleged that those being named in the rape case were closely associated with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.